Monday, January 31, 2011

Dates of Note in Country Music, February 1-15

Category: News

(Country Music Hall of Famers in bold)

February 1:

Don Everly born in Brownie, Kentucky, 1937 (now 74)
Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook born in Chicksaw, Alabama, 1937 (now 73)
Del McCoury born in Bakersville, North Carolina, 1939 (now 72)
Lisa Marie Presley born in Memphis, Tennessee, 1968 (now 43)
Scotty Wiseman died in Gainesville, Florida (heart attack), 1981 (was 71)

February 2:

Howard Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers born in Darby, Florida, 1946 (now 65)
Emmett Miller born in Macon, Georgia, 1900 (died 1962)
Lester McFarland of Mac & Bob born in Gray, Kentucky, 1902 (died 1984)
Glenn Barber born in Hollis, Oklahoma, 1935 (died 2008)
Rusty Kershaw born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1938 (died 2001)
Louise Scruggs, wife and manager of Earl Scruggs, died in Nashville Tennessee, 2006 (was 78)

February 3:

Dave Rich born in Briar Creek, Kentucky, 1936 (now 75). Ernest Tubb heard a recording of Rich's and hounded friend Ray Price throughout a game of golf to record the song. The song? "City Lights."
Matraca Berg born in Nashville, Tennessee, 1964 (now 47)
Betty Foley, daughter and one-time duet partner of Red Foley, born in Chicago, Illinois, 1933 (died 1990)
Jiles Perry "J.P." Richardson died near Clear Lake, Iowa (plane crash), 1959 (was 28)
Buddy Holly died near Clear Lake, Iowa (plane crash), 1959 (was 22)
James Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet died in Memphis, Tennessee (stroke), 2002 (was 83). He was the last member of the original legendary Southern Gospel quartet.

February 4:

Clint Black born in Long Branch, New Jersey, 1962 (now 49)
Chris McDaniel of Confederate Railroad born in Rock Springs, Georgia, 1965 (now 46)
Vic McAlpin born in Defeated Creek, Tennessee, 1918 (died 1980)
Kenneth "Jethro" Burns died in Evanston, Illinois (prostate cancer), 1989 (was 68)
Tom Brumley of Buck Owens' Buckaroos died in San Antonio, Texas (heart ailment), 2009 (was 62)

February 5:

Claude King born in Shreveport, Louisiana, 1933 (now 78).
Sara Evans born in Boonville, Missouri, 1971 (now 40)
Shelby David "Tex" Atchison born in Rosine, Kentucky, 1912 (died 1982)
Henson Cargill born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1941 (died 2007)
Eddy Noack died (cerebral hemorrhage), 1978 (was 47)

February 6:

Dale Reno of the Reno Brothers born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1961 (now 50)
Richie McDonald of Lonestar born in Lubbock, Texas, 1962 (now 49)
Anita Cochran born in Pontiac, Michigan, 1967 (now 44)
Violet Koehler of the original Coon Creek Girls born in Wilton, Wisconsin, 1916 (died 1973)
Merle Kilgore died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 2005 (was 70)
Frankie Laine died in San Diego, California (complications from hip replacement surgery), 2007 (was 93)

February 7:

Wilma Lee Cooper born in Valley Head, West Virginia, 1921 (now 90)
Tony Booth born in Tampa, Florida, 1943 (now 68)
Garth Brooks born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1962 (now 49)
Warren Smith born in Humphreys County, Mississippi, 1933 (died 1980)
Ambrose Allen of the Allen Brothers born in Sewanee, Tennessee, 1901 (died 1959)
Dale Evans died in Happy Valley, California (congestive heart failure), 2001 (was 88)
Molly Bee died in Oceanside, California (complications of a stroke), 2009 (was 68)
Patsy Cline's last recording session, Nashville, 1963. The last song she recorded was a cover of Moon Mullican's "I'll Sail My Ship Alone."
Jim Reeves recorded "Four Walls" in Nashville, 1957. This song is said by many to be the beginning of the "Nashville Sound."

February 8:

Joe South born in Atlanta, Georgia, 1942 (now 69)
Dan Seals born in McCamey, Texas, 1948 (now 63)
Don Wayne Reno of the Reno Brothers born in Roanoke, Virginia, 1963 (now 48)
Pappy Daily born in Yoakum, Texas, 1902 (died 1987)
Bob Dunn born in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, 1908 (died 1971). Dunn is credited as being the first country musician to use amplification for his instrument.
Merle Watson born in Deep Gap, North Carolina, 1949 (died 1985)
Lulu Belle Wiseman died (Alzheimer's disease), 1999 (was 84)
Keith Knudsen of Southern Pacific died in California (chronic pneumonia), 2005 (was 56)

February 9:
Red Lane born in Zona, Louisiana, 1939 (now 72)
Joe Ely born in Amarillo, Texas, 1947 (now 64)
Travis Tritt born in Marietta, Georgia, 1963 (now 48)
Ernest Tubb born in Crisp, Texas, 1914 (died 1984)

February 10:

George York of the York Brothers born in Louisa, Kentucky, 1910 (died 1974)
Arthur Satherley died in Fountain Valley, California (natural causes), 1986 (was 96)
Kendall Hayes died in Louisville, Kentucky (cancer), 1995 (was 59)
Jim Varney died in White House, Tennessee (lung cancer), 2000 (was 50)

February 11:

Wesley Rose born in Chicago, Illinois, 1918 (died 1980)

February 12:

Moe Bandy born in Meridian, Mississippi, 1944 (now 67)
Stephen Sholes born in Washington, DC, 1911 (died 1968)
Harley "Red" Allen born in Pigeon Roost, Kentucky, 1930 (died 1993)
Lorne Greene born in Ottawa, Ontario, 1915 (died 1987). The legendary actor hit the Billboard top 40 country charts in 1964 with "Ringo."
Sammi Smith died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (emphysema), 2005 (was 61)

February 13:

David McLaughlin of the Johnson Mountain Boys born in Washington, DC, 1958 (now 53)
Tennessee Ernie Ford born in Bristol, Tennessee, 1919 (died 1991)
Boudleaux Bryant born in Shellman, Georgia, 1920 (died 1987)
Jim McReynolds of Jim & Jessee born in Coeburn, Virginia, 1927 (died 2003)
Charlie Moore born in Piedmont, South Carolina, 1935 (died 1979)
Buddy Lee died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1998 (was 65)
Waylon Jennings died in Chandler, Arizona (complications of diabetes), 2002 (was 64)

February 14:

Razzy Bailey born in Five Points, Alabama, 1939 (now 72)
Bill Nowlin, co-founder of Rounder Records, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 1945 (now 66)
Harry Stone born in Jacksonville, Florida, 1898 (died 1968)
Lonnie Glosson born in Judsonia, Arkansas, 1908 (died 2001)
Buck Griffin died in Oklahoma (heart failure), 2009 (was 85)

February 15:

Hank Locklin born in McLellan, Florida, 1918 (died 2009)
Wally Fowler born in Adairsville, Georgia, 1917 (died 1994)
Louise Scruggs born in Lebanon, Tennessee, 1927 (died 2006)
Dorris Macon died (suicide), 1981 (was 71)
Nat "King" Cole died in Santa Montica, California (lung cancer), 1965 (was 45). The legendary pop crooner hit #1 on the Billboard country charts in 1944 (with the King Cole Trio) with the song "Straighten Up and Fly Right."

Friday, January 28, 2011

For Charlie

Category:  Tribute

In memory of Charlie Elzer Loudermilk Louvin
Born July 7, 1927, Section, Alabama
Died January 26, 2011, Wartrace, Tennessee

So if they ask you when I’m gone
Was it everything he wanted?
When he had to travel on
Did he know he’d be missed?
You can tell them this –
Hell yeah he did
He saw it all
He walked the line
Never had to crawl
He cried a bit
But not for long
Hell yeah, he found the life that he was after
Filled it up with love and laughter
Finally got it right and made it fit
Hell yeah he did

(Neil Diamond, "Hell Yeah," from the album 12 Songs, 2005)

Charlie and your blogger, 1995

Charlie's funeral is Sunday afternoon in Nashville.  He will be buried next to Ira.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You Can't Teach My Heart to Forget

Category:  News/Obituary

Harmony singing was nothing new in country music, nor was the brother duet.  The Blue Sky Boys and the Delmore Brothers were two of the biggest acts of the 1930s.  There was something unique, however, about the Louvin Brothers; namely, the tenor voice of elder brother Ira.  It is no exaggeration to say the Louvin Brothers perfected close harmony.  It is also no lie to say they were often imitated but never duplicated.

Charlie Louvin died today (1/26) of complications due to pancreatic cancer.

Charlie at the Midnite Jamboree in Nashville,
November 2010, one of his final appearances

There have been ebbs and flows in the career of Charlie Louvin, from the "wrong place at the wrong time" that seemed to plague the Louvin Brothers' career throughout the 1940s and early 50s to the #1 hit "I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby" and the reign as America's favorite country music duo; from the early 70s when the "Contrypolitan" sound left Louvin and scores of other traditional country singers behind to the Grammy award for the Louvin Brothers tribute album, Livin', Lovin', Losin':  Songs of the Louvin Brothers in 2004.  Although, as Charlie once said, his solo career actually had better sales than the Louvin Brothers' records, it is the Louvin Brothers' material that is fondly remembered and covered by everyone from bluegrass ("I Have Found a Way" on Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver's Kept & Protected) to country (Emmylou Harris' first top ten hit, "If I Could Only Win Your Love") to rock (Elvis Costello's rendition of "Must You Throw Dirt in My Face" on Kojak Variety).  The 2005 book 1,001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die includes the landmark 1956 Louvin Brothers album Tragic Songs of Life among the list of mostly rock recordings.

Last June, shortly before his birthday, Louvin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  He was given a dim prognosis ("six weeks to live," Louvin remarked later); further, a Whipple procedure performed in August was unsuccessful.  Louvin commented, "I don't know what else they'll try, but whatever it is I'm sure it'll be painful."  

In September Louvin hosted the Midnite Jamboree.  The show was a 61st wedding anniversary celebration for Louvin and his wife, Betty.  At that show, Louvin was so exhausted he could not stand up or sing.  Just two months later, however, when Louvin again hosted the Midnite Jamboree, he sang and stood throughout the 90-minute show.  At the show he said the doctors had pronounced him "clean as a whistle" from his cancer and commented he had started to regain his appetite and some of the 40 pounds he had lost during the battle.

However, after the first of the year Louvin's condition took a sudden, dramatic turn for the worse. He was briefly hospitalized where he discovered the cancer had returned in all its fury.  According to son Sonny (Charlie Jr.), Louvin gave up interest in singing, telling his son, "I'm tired.  I just want to go home."  Wednesday morning at approximately 1:00 a.m. central time, he got his wish.

You may teach all the raindrops to return to the clouds
But you can't teach my heart to forget.
(Louvin Brothers, "When I Stop Dreaming")

Charlie Louvin was 83.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dates of Note in Country Music, January 16-31

Category: News

(Country Music Hall of Famers in bold)

January 16:

Ronnie Milsap born in Robbinsville, North Carolina, 1943 (now 68)
Jim Stafford born in Eloise, Florida, 1944 (now 67)
Sandy Pinkard of Pinkard & Bowden born in Abbeville, Louisiana, 1947 (now 64)
Roy Lanham of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Corbin, Kentucky, 1923 (died 1991)
Ruby Falls born in Jackson, Tennessee, 1946 (died 1986)

Dizzy Dean born in Lucas, Arkansas, 1910 (died 1974). The legendary baseball player is credited with dubbing Roy Acuff "King of Country Music."
Carl Smith died in Nashville, Tennessee (stroke), 2010 (was 82)
Bill Monroe seriously injured in a car wreck, 1953. Monroe was away from performing for six months while recovering.

Jamaican authorities shot at the private plane of Jimmy Buffett, mistaking it for a drug kingpin's plane, 1996.  No one on board Buffett's plane was injured.

January 17:

Amanda Wilkinson of the Wilkinsons born in Belleville, Ontario, 1982 (now 29)
Steve Earle born in Fort Monroe, Virginia, 1955 (now 56)
Walter Bailes of the Bailes Brothers born in Kanawha County, West Virginia, 1920 (died 2000)
Grady Martin born in Marshall County, Tennessee, 1929 (died 2001)
Cliffie Stone died in his home in Saugus, California (heart attack), 1998 (was 80)
Frank "Hylo" Brown died in Mechanicsburg, Ohio (natural causes), 2003 (was 81)
The street in front of Graceland renamed "Elvis Presley Boulevard," 1972

January 18:

Bobby Edwards born in Aniston, Alabama, 1926 (now 85)
Hargus "Pig" Robbins born in Spring City, Tennessee, 1938 (now 73)
Mark Collie born in Waynesboro, Tennessee, 1956 (now 55)
Linda Parker of the Cumberland Ridge Runners born in Covington, Kentucky, 1912 (died 1935)
Eddie Hill died (long-term illness), 1994 (was 74)

January 19:

Oscar Sullivan born in Edmonton, Kentucky, 1919 (now 92)
Stu Phillips born in Montreal, Quebec, 1933 (now 78)
Phil Everly born in Chicago, Illinois, 1939 (now 72)
Dolly Parton born in Locast Ridge, Tennessee, 1946 (now 65)
Stephanie Davis born in Bridger, Montana, 1958 (now 53)
Dennie Crouch of the Nashville Bluegrass Band born in Strawberry, Arkansas, 1967 (now 44)
Leo Soileau born in Ville Platte, Louisiana, 1904 (died 1980)
Ken Nelson born in Caledonia, Minnesota, 1911 (died 2008)
Ralph Peer died in Los Angeles, California (unknown cause), 1960 (was 67)
Vic McAlpin died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1980 (was 61)
Carl Perkins died in Jackson, Tennessee (complications of stroke/throat cancer), 1998 (was 65)

James O'Gwynn died in Hattiesburg, Mississippi (long-term illness), 2011 (was 82)

January 20:

Slim Whitman born in Tampa, Florida, 1924 (now 87). In 2008, Whitman was incorrectly listed as deceased the day after his birthday.
John Michael Montgomery born in Danville, Kentucky, 1965 (now 46)
George Burns born in New York, New York, 1896 (died 1996). The legendary comedian and actor had a top 20 country song in 1980 with "I Wish I Was Eighteen Again."

January 21:

Mac Davis born in Lubbock, Texas, 1942 (now 69)
Jim Ibbottson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1947 (now 64)
Huddie "Leadbelly" Leadbetter born in Mooringsport, Louisiana, 1889 (died 1949). The year of Leadbelly's birth is open for debate, as is the actual day, with numerous sources citing January 20, January 21, or January 23, and years of 1888 or 1889.
Cedric Rainwater died in Nashville, Tennessee (heart attack), 1970 (was 56)
Jim Anglin died in Nashville, Tennessee (cancer), 1987 (was 73)
Colonel Tom Parker died in Las Vegas, Nevada (stroke), 1997 (was 87). In addition to Elvis, Parker managed Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, and Minnie Pearl early in their careers.
Patsy Cline appeared on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and won the talent show,1957

January 22:

Teddy Gentry of Alabama born in Fort Payne, Alabama, 1952 (now 59)
J.P. Pennington of Exile born in Berea, Kentucky, 1949 (now 62)
Dickie McBride of Cliff Bruner's Texas Wanderers born in New Baden, Texas, 1914 (died 1971)
Jimmy Day died in Buda, Texas (cancer), 1999 (was 65)
Janette Carter, the last surviving member of the Carter Family, died in Kingsport, Tennessee (Parkinson's disease/illness), 2006 (was 82)

January 23:

Etta May born in Bald Knob, Arkansas, 1962 (now 49)
Johnny Russell born in Sunflower County, Mississippi, 1940 (died 2001)
T. Texas Tyler died in Springfield, Missouri (stomach cancer), 1972 (was 55)
Art Stamper (fiddler in the Clinch Mountain Boys) died in Louisville, Kentucky (throat cancer), 2005 (was 71)
Johnny Carson died in Hollywood, California (emphysema), 2005 (was 79). Carson had a number of country artists on The Tonight Show, including over two dozen appearances by Homer and Jethro, who Carson considered his favorites.
The Winter Dance Party begins in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1959. Three of the headliners, Buddy Holly, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and Richie Valens, would die 11 days later.

January 24:

Doug Kershaw born in Tiel Ridge, Louisiana, 1936 (now 75)
Jack Scott born in Windsor, Ontario, 1936 (now 75)
Ray Stevens born in Clarksdale, Georgia, 1939 (now 72)
Becky Hobbs born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1950 (now 61)
Keech Rainwater of Lonestar born in Plano, Texas, 1963 (now 48)
Shot Jackson died in Nashville, Tennessee (complications of stroke), 1991 (was 70)
Justin Tubb died in Nashville, Tennessee (aortic aneurysm), 1998 (was 62)

January 25:

Claude Gray born in Henderson, Texas, 1932 (now 79)
Rusty Draper born in Kirksville, Missouri, 1923 (died 2003)
Speedy West born in Springfield, Missouri, 1924 (died 2003)
Cactus Jack Call died in Kansas City, Missouri (car wreck), 1963. A benefit concert for the disc jockey five weeks later was the final performances by Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Cowboy Copas.

January 26:

 Dave Rowland of Dave & Sugar born in Sanger, California, 1942 (now 69)
Lucinda Williams born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, 1953 (now 58)

James O'Gwynn born in Winchester, Mississippi, 1928 (died 2011)
Clayton McMichen born in Allatoona, Georgia, 1900 (died 1970)
Goebel Reeves died in Long Beach, California (heart attack), 1959 (was 59)
Hillary Clinton
disparagingly invoked Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" during an interview, 1992

January 27:

Buddy Emmons born in Mishawaka, Indiana, 1937 (now 74)
Lee Carroll of Exile born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1953 (now 58)
Cheryl White of the Whites born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1955 (now 56)
Richard Young of the Kentucky Headhunters born in Glasgow, Kentucky, 1955 (now 56)
Tracy Lawrence born in Atlanta, Texas, 1968 (now 43)
Joe Callahan of the Callahan Brothers born in Madison County, North Carolina, 1910 (died 1971)
Claude Akins died in Altadena, California (cancer), 1994 (was 67). Among the actor's roles was Sonny on the TV series Movin' On, which featured the title song performed by Merle Haggard.

January 28:

Greg Cook of Ricochet born in Vian, Oklahoma, 1965 (now 46)
Bill Phillips born in Canton, North Carolina, 1936 (died 2010)

Skeeter Willis died in Nashville, Tennessee (lymph cancer), 1976 (was 58)
Al Dexter died in Lewisville, Texas (heart attack), 1984 (was 78)

Jimmy Fortune joins the Statler Brothers, 1982

January 29:

Patsy Sledd born in Falcon, Missouri, 1944 (now 67)
Irlene Mandrell of the Mandrell Sisters born in Corpus Christi, Texas, 1957 (now 54)
Lloyd Perryman of the Sons of the Pioneers born in Ruth, Arkansas, 1917 (died 1977)
Little Jimmy Sizemore born in Paintsville, Kentucky, 1928 (died 1985)

January 30:

Jeanne Pruett born in Pell City, Alabama, 1937 (now 74)
Norma Jean ("Pretty Miss Norma Jean") born in Wellston, Oklahoma, 1938 (now 73)
Harold Morrison born in High Lonesome, Missouri, 1931 (died 1993)
Melvin Endsley born in Drasco, Arkansas, 1934 (died 2004)
Ott Devine died in Nashville, Tennessee (unknown cause), 1994 (was 83)

January 31:

Lynwood Lunsford of Lost & Found born in Roxboro, North Carolina, 1962 (now 49)
Warren Smith died in Longview, Texas (heart attack), 1981 (was 47)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sick Call: The Midnite Jamboree

Category:  News/Opinion

The Midnite Jamboree, a free-admission live concert that is the second-oldest radio show in the U.S. (behind the Grand Ole Opry), may be in trouble.  The Ernest Tubb Record Shop's web site has announced that there will be no new shows until March.  

This comes on the heels of a recent change in the Midnite Jamboree's broadcasts.  Since Ernest Tubb founded the show in 1947, shortly after opening his record store on Broadway near the Ryman Auditorium, the show has aired live immediately following the conclusion of the second Saturday night Opry show.  Indeed, some of the great moments in show history involved Marty Robbins playing long after the midnight hour, only to be chided by Ernest once WSM switched over to the store for the live broadcast.  However, in October 2010 the Ernest Tubb Record Shop announced a dramatic change:  the show would no longer be broadcast live.  Furthermore, it would no longer happen at midnight (the time that gave the legendary show its name).  Instead, it would be taped at 10 p.m. and aired one week later (not even the same night it was broadcast!) at midnight.

To some degree, the time change is understandable.  Admittedly, a lot of the performers who play the Midnite Jamboree are getting older (or are old:  I recently saw 83-year-old Charlie Louvin at a taping).  A show that lets out at about 2 a.m. (and that's central time, so tack on an hour for people to travel to Nashville from eastern time zone locales to see a show), once the show is finished and the artist finishes autographing and chatting with the fans in the store afterwards, is not the best thing for either the act or the audience (be it older people or the people who have brought children to the show).  Additionally, if the crowd is there at 2 in the morning that means that store workers also have to be.

However, this was never an issue until very recently.  It follows on the heels of the Opry's Friday night shows being reduced to just one and the Saturday Opry (which has been a two-show night as long as I have been alive) being reduced to just one in the summer (ironically, during the tourist season:  in the winter, when fewer people frequent Nashville as a tourist destination, they carry on the two-show tradition). 

Add to this time change the never-before-seen cancellation of the Midnite Jamboree for two months and one cannot help but wonder what is going on.  Will the Midnite Jamboree survive much longer?  It would be tremendously sad to see this long-standing tradition of country music die.

The Midnite Jamboree will resume 10 p.m. tapings in March with "Teddy Bear Song" singer Barbara Fairchild as the host.  Here's hoping it's still around next March.